This year’s graduating class of 2020 has faced a year like no other in the history of San Manuel High School.
The traditional school year ended and everyone found new ways to adjust and try to keep the school spirit going.
For the first time, San Manuel’s graduation will be held mid-summer despite the fact that classes ended the week of May 18. Graduation has been scheduled for June 26 at 7 p.m. at the football field. It is unknown how social distancing will affect the graduates and seating for their families.
One thing that won’t change will be the speeches – one of the highlights of the commencement ceremony. This year two young ladies will take center stage and offer their words of wisdom for their classmates.
Araceli Curry and Bailee Hill have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for their class.
Araceli Alicia Huerta Curry is the daughter of Francisco and Ramona Curry and the granddaughter of Refugio and Elvira Huerta and Carmen Curry. She has four siblings, Cameron, Francisco, Mireya, and Vicente Curry.
Araceli has been heavily involved in sports during her high school career. She’s participated in cross country, basketball, track and cheer. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Interact and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She plans on attending the University of Arizona in the fall. She has not yet declared a major, but sees herself choosing nursing after the first semester.
“In this next phase of life,” Araceli told the Miner, “I look forward to finding what I really love and applying that to my career choice. I can’t wait to begin school because I love learning, I’ve always believed in knowledge being power, who doesn’t like knowing things?”
Looking forward 10 years, she sees herself as a self-made successful woman.
“I see myself having a successful career in the medical field, giving back to our changing world,” she said.
Bailee Paige Hill is the daughter of Bill and Franky Hill. Her siblings are Hunter, Billy and Kevin Hill.
Bailee is a swimmer. She swam all four years of high school, lettering all four years and serving as captain in her senior year. She is a member of student council, National Honor Society, A.P. Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Interact Club (vice president). She also served as class secretary for the past two years. Bailee will be attending the University of Arizona in the fall and will be pursuing a degree in elementary education.
“I am looking forward to experiencing everything about college,” Bailee said, adding, “I am also looking forward to studying something I am interested in and starting my future.”
Looking ahead 10 years, Bailee said she sees herself living on her own, possibly married and “having a teaching job somewhere around here.”
COVID-19 changed their end of year plans. Araceli sees her classmates making an impact on their changing world, serving and helping others.
“I see myself and my graduating class taking the things we love and applying them to our future careers. I believe this is important because I know that will create passion for our careers, whether some of us choose to become doctors, lawyers, journalists, entrepreneurs, go into the military, etc.,” she said.
Bailee believes the pandemic has been an eye-opener for her and her classmates.
“Since we are living through a pandemic, we have learned to appreciate every moment and not take things for granted,” she said. “This will help us to be grateful for what we have.”
“Doing the things we love is what will make a difference and impact on our changing world,” Araceli added.
Both girls will miss their favorite sports.
“Playing basketball is what I’m going to miss most about high school,” Araceli said. “On the most stressful days basketball was always something that helped, something I could pour passion into, not to mention my amazing teammates and coaches!”
For Bailee it will be swimming, but she said she’ll also miss her teachers, choir and “sign language with Mrs. Miles.”
There are also things they WON’T miss about high school.
“I will not mis A.P. Calculus online,” Bailee said. “Although I have learned a lot, it is something I will not miss.”
“I will not miss having to eat lunch so early on in the day,” Araceli said, adding, “something about a full meal at 10:30 in the morning just doesn’t sit right with me.”
Both girls have a vision for their community. Ten years from now, Bailee hopes Oracle is still a small town. “I don’t want the urban areas to make its way here. I love my little town of Oracle and I plan to live here in the future.”
Araceli wants to see more resources and opportunities for the youth. “Helping our youth, and showing them that they can do anything they set their minds to will make me want to return to my community during my adulthood,” she said. “Giving back to your people is one of the most important things I believe in.”
The future is bright for these two graduates and their experiences with COVID-19 has taught them flexibility, patience and understanding – all critical skills for navigating lives challenges.
Editor’s note: Copper Area News – San Manuel Miner congratulates Araceli and Bailee and their families for this top academic accomplishment. Due to COVID-19 interviews were conducted remotely via email written replies.